BEAUMONT — Officer Sheena Yarbrough-Powell, 23, was killed in a head-on crash, and her partner, Ofc. Gabriel Fells, 28, was injured, when a driver traveling the wrong way on Highway 69 near Highway 347 crashed into their patrol unit.
DPS believes that driver, Luis Torres, 18, of Port Arthur, was driving drunk when he hit the patrol unit at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday.
Fells was driving the unit. The DPS says the officers were traveling north on Highway 69 near Highway 347. Torres was traveling south in the northbound lane with no headlights on. He struck the patrol unit head on.
Ofc. Yarbrough-Powell died at the scene. Funeral services are pending.
She took the oath during a swearing in ceremony January 8, 2019, embracing her parents after the ceremony. Yarbrough-Powell was married in October, 2019.
Ofc. Fells was transported to CHRISTUS Hospital St.. Elizabeth in Beaumont for treatment. He's in serious but stable condition.
Torres was also transported to CHRISTUS.
The DPS says investigators believe Torres was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash. A blood specimen was obtained and the results are pending.
Here is the DPS news release:
"The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is investigating a two vehicle fatal crash that occurred early this morning on US 69 at MLK Boulevard, involving two Beaumont Police Officers.
The preliminary crash investigation indicates at approximately 2:30 a.m., a Beaumont Police Department patrol vehicle was traveling north. The driver of a 2006 Ford passenger car was traveling south in the northbound lane with no headlights and struck the patrol vehicle head-on.
The driver of the patrol vehicle is identified as 28-year-old Officer Gabriel Fells from Beaumont. A passenger with Fells is identified as 23-year-old Officer Sheena Yarbrough-Powell, also from Beaumont. Fells was transported to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Beaumont for treatment. Yarbrough-Powell was pronounced deceased at the scene by a Jefferson Co. Justice of the Peace.
The driver of the Ford is identified as 18-year-old Luis Torres from Port Arthur. Torres was also transported to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Beaumont for treatment.
Investigators believe Torres was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crash. A blood specimen was obtained and the results are pending.
This crash remains under investigation. No additional information is available at this time."
Here is the Beaumont PD news release from the statement of Chief Jim Singletary. You can watch his statement on our Facebook page:
"It’s a sad day for The Beaumont Police Department and the community that our Officers proudly serve.
At 2:30 this morning, two Beaumont Police Officers were traveling Northbound on Cardinal Drive, near the Hwy 347 overpass, when they were struck head-on by a wrong way driver.
One Officer was transported to the hospital with severe injuries but is stable. He underwent surgery early this morning and has since been released. He has a long road to recovery ahead of him but we will be with him every step of the way.
Unfortunately, his partner did not survive her injuries.
Officer Sheena Yarbrough-Powell, was a 23 year old Lumberton Native. She was hired by the Beaumont Police Department as a Police Cadet on August 13, 2018. On December 20, 2018 she was sworn in as a Beaumont Police Officer. Sheena was assigned to 4th Watch Patrol. She had been married for just 10 months.
There’s no doubt that it’s an extremely difficult time to be a Police Officer but it’s also an extremely important time. Our Officers and Dispatchers have done a remarkable job during this difficult time but today, we are hurting.
The next few days, weeks, months and years will be difficult for Sheena’s family, both blood and blue but we will get through this together with the help of our community.
I would like to say thank you to the State Troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety for responding and leading the investigation of the crash. I would also like the thank the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and Lamar P.D. for stepping in and answering our calls for service while most of our Officers were on the scene of the crash.
Also, I want to ask our community to not only keep Sheena’s family and the police department in your prayers but Beaumont EMS and Fire Department. Police, Fire and EMS go hand-in-hand. We are all first responders and our paths cross multiple times throughout our respective shifts. So this loss is hard for them too.
We have already started to feel the outpouring of support from the community and it means more than you know. There will be more information released as we plan the services to honor Sheena’s life."
- Chief James Singletary
Officer Sheena Yarbrough-Powell is the 18th Beaumont Police Department officer killed in the line of duty.
The last Beaumont officer killed, prior to August 9, was Officer Bryan Hebert on July 8, 2011, when another driver deliberately crashed into Hebert while he was preparing to put down spike strips on Dowlen Road to stop the driver, who was fleeing from police. Officer Hebert was 36-years-old and a ten year veteran of the department.
Beaumont Mayor Becky Ames released this statement about the fatal collision:
"My thoughts and prayers go to the family and friends left behind after such a needless tragedy. There are no words that can comfort grieving at a time like this, but my hope is that you know how many people in our city grieve with you. Our entire city hurts when we lose a first responder. Praying for you.
My heartfelt condolences and prayers go to the entire BPD family for your loss of a fellow officer and for your injured colleague. You all do an amazing job under the most difficult of circumstances. We do not say thank you often enough. Thank you for keeping us safe."
Mayor Becky Ames
A number of law enforcement agencies are offering their thoughts and prayers to the Beaumont Police Department.